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Jan 27th
Home Sections MiscellaNEWS Killers of “Filipino Black Widow” Get 26 Years to Life in Prison
Killers of “Filipino Black Widow” Get 26 Years to Life in Prison PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 21 March 2011 09:53



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Latino-American Defendant Will Appeal Verdict


C HICAGO (jGLi) – A Filipino-American U.S. Navy enlisted man and his fellow Navy man were both sentenced to 26 years to life in prison on March 16 by Superior Court Judge James Brandlin in Los Angeles, California suburb of Torrance, for murder and conspiracy to commit murder.


Eric Santander De la Cruz, 31, a native of the Philippines, and Fernando Romero, 27, a Latino American, will be paying a mandatory restitution of $500 each and will be credited with 698 days of their sentences.


De la Cruz and Romero were asked by Judge Brandlin to make a statement before the sentencing but they kept silent, according court sources.


Romero’s defense lawyer, Ludlow B. Creary, II, told this reporter that he is going to file a notice of appeal on behalf of Romero before Judge Brandlin. But another private defense lawyer will be filing an appeals brief before the Court of Appeals of the Third District in Los Angeles within 60 days.


Atty. Creary believes his client will be eventually cleared or exonerated. He said were it not for the introduction of “evidence prejudicial to my client and because of insufficiency of evidence since there was no gun, no fingerprints, no witnesses, no blood and no physical evidence tying my client to the crime that convicted his client based on circumstantial evidence, the decision should have been reversed and my client exonerated.”


Mr. Creary paid tribute to the “judge and prosecutors for being professional and competent and they did the best job they can do.”


De la Cruz and Romero were convicted Feb. 17 by the jury of killing De la Cruz’s grandaunt, Sonia Rios Risken on April 26, 2007, in her home in 252nd Street, Lomita, California, a suburb south of Los Angeles, based on “complicated circumstantial evidence that involve cell phone, bank records and e-mails although the gun was missing from her home,” according to Deputy District Attorney John Lewin of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s major crime division.


Victim Suspected of Masterminding Killings of Husbands in 1987 and 2006, Respectively


S onia Rios Risken, 60, was earlier suspected of masterminding the death of her first husband, Earl John Bourdeau, in 1987, following the death of her second husband, Law “Larry” Risken in April 2006, prompting media outlets to dub her as “Lomita Black Widow.”


Bourdeau, a retired Marine, was found shot to death inside Sonia Rios Risken’s family home in Cavite in the Philippines in a trip Sonia did not join.


Nineteen years later in 2006, Sonia Rios Risken’s second hand, Larry Risken, was also shot in the head during a visit to his wife’s family in Cavite and she also did not join the trip either. His body was immediately cremated.


In both instances, Bourdeau and Risken also planned to divorce Sonia.


U.S. Embassy in Manila Reveals Involvement of Widow in Killing of Second Husband


D uring the trial of De la Cruz and Romero, it was disclosed that Sonia was the likely killer of Risken. The U.S. Embassy in Manila wrote Risken’s father, Law Risken, on March 10, 2009, saying that the Philippine police investigators suspected Sonia Risken was behind his son’s killing. Police did not pursue the case following her death.


When reached for comment, Det. Linda Muse, LA County Sheriff’s office of the homicide bureau investigator of the case told this reporter she will be contacting the Bordeau and Riskin families if they will still be pursuing the killers in the Philippines.


Prosecutors believed greed motivated De la Cruz, of Carson, and Romero, of Highland, both in California, for the killing of Sonia.

De la Cruz testified during the trial that Sonia, whom he called “Grandma,” had raised him and was expecting to inherit her money and property.


“Mr. De la Cruz just wanted the money that he thought was coming to him, and he didn’t want to wait,” Lewin said.


Things unraveled when De la Cruz set up a ruse pretending to be Bordeau’s son, John, by creating an e-mail account under John’s name in 2007. De la Cruz e-mailed the sister of Sonia’s deceased second husband, saying he could retrieve her brother’s remains in the Philippines for $35,000.


In a subsequent e-mail, De la Cruz also e-mailed to her, offering to kill Sonia Rios Risken also for pay, according to prosecutors.


Saying that he has a friend, who can kill Sonia Rios Risken, De la Cruz said in his e-mail, all he needed was her permission for his friend to kill Sonia “first and then you can pay him later.”


Both De la Cruz and Romero were on duty at the time of the killing at the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and De la Cruz asked Romero to be “trigger man” because he could not pull the trigger himself.


When Romero failed to kill Sonia at her beauty shop a week before her death at his first try, De la Cruz went ashore from the aircraft carrier and went to Lomita to help Romero finish the job. # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (


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